As individuals, how can we face the existential threat of climate change when we are continually reminded that everything we do — the very act of living — inexorably contributes to our own undoing? It’s sort of the world’s most angst-inducing question, which is why The Onion’s take on it is so genius.
Suppose you've just sat down in a crisply air-conditioned movie theater. Why not take the length of a preview or two to consider the building's massive carbon footprint? Imagine those greenhouse gases trapped in the atmosphere, disrupting ecosystems and causing infectious diseases to spread rampantly, particularly in regions of the world where the poorest people live. Visualize massive storm systems cutting widespread swaths of destruction. Think of your children's children dying horrible, unnecessary deaths.
Without ever explaining itself, this Onion article points to exactly the result we've arrived at today in the U.S.: learned helplessness among those who are educated about climate change, which happens to resemble just the sort of inaction denialists and delayers prefer.
Meanwhile, what can we do? We're not policymakers or engineers, most of us. Vote? In a political system so decrepit it feels like only a complete reboot could solve its underlying issues?
Me? I think I'll panic about this for the next 20 or so seconds, then go watch YouTube.
Many well-intentioned people will take 20 seconds out of their week to consider the consequences of the lifestyle they've chosen, perhaps contemplating how their reliance on fossil fuels has contributed to the rapid melting of the Arctic ice cap. But if progress is what we truly want, 20 seconds is simply not enough. Not by a long shot. An issue this critical demands at least 45 seconds to a solid minute of real, concentrated panic.
Well shit, fine, I guess I can rewrite my schedule.